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Randal Kolo Muani: The Bundesliga's top creator

Matt Ford Deutsche Bank Park, Frankfurt
October 29, 2022

The top assister in the Bundesliga this season isn’t Thomas Müller or Jude Bellingham; but Randal Kolo Muani. The Frenchman set up another on Saturday, but couldn’t prevent Eintracht Frankfurt from losing to Dortmund.

UEFA Champions League | Eintracht Frankfurt vs Olympique Marseille | Randal Kolo Muani
Image: NorbertScanella/Panoramic/IMAGO

After wrong-footing Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels in the box with a neat turn and lobbing the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper Gregor Kobel, Randal Kolo Muani must have thought he’d given Eintracht Frankfurt a half-time lead. 

But the ball looped just centimeters too far and bounced back off the foot of the post, allowing Dortmund to clear. 

The scene summed up an evening on which Eintracht “completely dominated Dortmund,” in the words of sporting director Markus Krösche, but still slipped to a 1-2 defeat. And it summed up Muani’s luck in front of goal this season. 

Since arriving in Frankfurt from Nantes in the summer, the 23-year-old Frenchman has earned deserved plaudits for his unparalleled creativity, clearly leading the Bundesliga’s assist charts ahead of the likes of Thomas Müller, Jude Bellingham and Christopher Nkunku

Muani notched his ninth assist of the season on Saturday when he skipped past Bellingham to set up Daichi Kamada for Frankfurt’s equalizer. That’s almost twice as many as his closest challengers Jamal Musiala and Dominik Szoboszlai, both with five. 

Randal Kolo Muani in action for Eintracht Frankfurt againt Borussia Dortmund.
Muani has already assisted nine times this season, a Bundesliga high.Image: Jan Huebner/IMAGO

Profligacy in front of goal 

Muani’s own finishing, however, still needs work. 

He was Frankfurt’s hero in midweek when he pounced in the box to net the winner against Olympique Marseille in the Champions League, only his fourth goal of the season, but his profligacy cost the Eagles against Dortmund. 

Just before the hour-mark, after Bellingham had restored Dortmund’s lead, Salih Özcan was caught in possession by Mario Götze, who found Muani in space, only for Kobel to keep it out.

Five minutes later – after Götze had seen another effort cleared off the line – Muani was through again, cutting inside past Hummels and Nico Schlotterbeck but again shooting straight at Kobel. 

“He might not have scored but Kolo Muani has just sent two of Germany’s World Cup defenders spinning through a revolving door,” quipped Marcus Bark, who regularly covers Borussia Dortmund for Spiegel magazine. 

Muani celebrates scoring the winner against Marseille in the Champions League with Mario Götze
Muani scored the winner against Marseille in the Champions LeagueImage: Jan Huebner/IMAGO

‘A constant source of unrest’ - Glasner 

Despite not finding the net, Frankfurt head coach Oliver Glasner is still more than satisfied with Muani’s progress – praising him for his general involvement and revealing that the striker is working on his finishing. 

“Kolo was a constant source of unrest today,” the Austrian told DW, referring to Muani's incessant work against the ball.  

Ahead of the Dortmund game, no Frankfurt player had registered as many “final third pressures” as Muani, according to online portal FBref – and he continued that trend with his pressing against Dortmund. 

“But you can see from his goalscoring chances where the room for improvement lies,” explained Glasner, demanding more “coolness” in front of goal from his striker. 

“He gets himself into great positions with his close control in tight areas but then shoots hard with power, instead of perhaps slotting it calmly into the corner with the side of his foot. 

“That’s very much on the agenda here and we’re working on it, and if there’s not improvement in six months’ time, then we’re doing something wrong as a coaching team.  

“Kolo is a super lad who is absolutely on the right path.” 

Muani has already played twice for France.
Muani has already played twice for France.Image: Ulrik Pedersen//ZUMA Wire/IMAGO

Muani’s unorthodox path 

Hailing from the Parisian banlieue of Bondy, where compatriot Kylian Mbappé, just 15 days his junior, once honed his skills, Muani’s path to the Bundesliga was unorthodox, even dropping to the French third tier to get on the latter. 

But he finally excelled at Nantes, scoring 13 goals and setting up six more last season as the Canaries won the Coupe de France.

“Kolo does everything quickly and lightly, as if he were on a cloud,” Nantes’ chief scout Mathieu Bideau told local newspaper Ouest-France. “And if you poke him, he wants to show that you’ve got it wrong,” added youth coach Pierre Aristouy. 

Muani, who was called up for his first France caps last month by Didier Deschamps, will now have to apply that dedication to his finishing at Frankfurt, where he’s already taken to the intense training regime. “It’s all about the little details,” he told L’Équipe this week. 

That could be the difference between the ball going in off the post, or back out.